Maddox Thomas wasn’t satisfied with how the Claremore defense opened the first inning.
A leadoff double from Coweta’s Madison Wheat and a pair of errors put the Lady Zebras in a two-run hole, but the sophomore was determined to remedy that deficit.
It took her only one pitch to do just that.
After Jordyn Muns scored on an error, Thomas blasted a two-run homer to leftfield, giving Claremore a 3-2 lead.
The Lady Zebras wouldn’t trail again.
Thomas’ dinger sparked Claremore to a 14-4 victory over the Lady Tigers in the team’s home opener on Tuesday afternoon.
It was the second home run in six games for Thomas. The first came in a 9-5 loss to Muldrow in the Broken Arrow Tournament on Friday.
“The top of the first didn’t go our way, so I went up there saying, ‘I need to find my pitch and swing hard,’” Thomas said. “When it went over, I knew it would get the momentum to go on to the next innings.”
Lady Zebras coach Keeli Garroutte said though Thomas didn’t hit any balls out of the park as a freshman in 2018, she certainly showed signs of greatness, striking out only once.
Her consistency has grown this season, for she has gone 13-for-22 at the plate through seven games with no strikeouts.
“That power might be increasing a little bit. She hits the ball hard and brings our runners around,” Garroutte said.
That is not a misprint. The sophomore sensation has more home runs than strikeouts this season.
“I’ve been being more pitch selective, and I’ve been working hard and lifting some weights so I can get to where I’m the person I want to be when I step up there and who (my teammates) want up there,” Thomas said.
If that weren’t enough, Thomas is also the defensive leader of the team as the catcher.
Garroutte said she has come to terms with Claremore giving up hits and runs, but Thomas’ ability to minimize damage and direct her teammates is a priceless attribute on an already young team.
“She’s somebody who I think is going to keep us together on defense,” Garroutte said. “She’s like having another coach on the field, and as a sophomore, that’s kind of insane.”
Wheat notched an RBI groundout in the second to even the score at 3 for the Lady Tigers, but it was a short-loved deadlock.
Claremore responded by loading the bases in the bottom half, taking a 6-3 lead after reaping the benefits of three-straight hit by pitches.
Julia Hoffman scored on a passed ball shortly after, and a 2-RBI double from Abbey Hagen shortly after pushed the advantage to 9-3.
Kayley Lott scored on an error committed by Lady Zebras pitcher Alyssa Poorboy in the next inning for Coweta’s final run.
Poorboy lasted the full five innings, allowing no earned runs and three hits with no strikeouts. She had herself a good game at the plate as well, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Rylee Vanaman and Muns opened the third with a pair of singles, and Terran Schornick, facing a 2-2 count with two outs, brought them home with a double to centerfield.
Not to be outdone, Hagen launched a 2-RBI triple to leftfield, and Reavis brought her home with a double to centerfield to cap Claremore’s scoring at 14 runs.
Thomas, Muns, Poorboy and Hagen accounted for eight of the Lady Zebras’ 12 hits, recording two apiece.
Tarun Robinson took the loss in the circle for Coweta, surrendering 11 runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out only one in two innings.
Kirbi Tiger and Braedyn Sheofee also saw time on the rubber, striking out a combined one batter while allowing five hits, three runs and one walk.
For Claremore (4-3, 2-0 District 5A-3), the result marked the team’s second-straight double-digit victory. The Lady Zebras defeated Edison, 24-0, on Monday.
Garroutte said she is satisfied with the two results, but there remains work to be done as Claremore delves further into district play.
“We’re only two games in, so I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” Garroutte said. “We’ve got two opponents left that we haven’t seen, and I know they’re going to give us a run for our money.
“Starting out on a good note feels good, and I’m glad we have a little confidence heading into those two games.”